(The open road before our cross country adventure)
I made it outback and I made it back again. Our cosy afternoon swimming at Ellery Creek instead became an afternoon of four-wheel driving to collect our hiker friends from Hugh Gorge. Unbeknown to all of us when we agreed to pick them up at Hugh Gorge, Hugh Gorge is 22.5km off the Larapinta Highway, along a 4-wheel drive track recommended for 'experienced 4-wheel drivers only'. Much of the track had been washed away or was now divided by a new creek due to recent rainfall (Our travelling companion mentioning that roads in India are better than those of Central Australia!). For much (all) of the journey we were fairly convinced that we were heading in the wrong direction. Many rocks, countless river crossings (that contained water - a rarity here in the desert), long grasses and a few 'hills'. Half way through the journey J mentioned that she'd never driven a 4-wheel drive before, let alone off road. She handled it amazingly. If she hadn't have told me I never would have known. At just about the 2 hour mark (the exact amount of time Parks recommends that the journey will take) we rounded a bend and J screamed 'there they are!!' I've never been more happy to see some stinky hikers!
(the road to Ellery after our cross country adventure)
Two hours back and a short bitumen journey (luxury) later we were at Ellery Creek Big Hole. The sun had set, but it was the perfect night to have a starlight swim. The water was freezing, the stars beautiful. Until we scarred each other too much with tales of lost bodies, snakes and crocodiles - what if we were the first group to be taken by crocs in Central Australia? We'd at least make the front page of the Advocate, unless the Gap View was broken into at the same time....